Short Courses*

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM

SC1: Immunology Basics: Focusing on Autoimmunity and Cancer - Detailed Agenda


This short course provides an introduction to immunology and immuno-oncology for discovery pharmacologists, biologists and chemists working in the biopharmaceutical industry. It will review how the immune system is organized and gives rise to both normal and pathogenic immune responses. Topics will include pathogen recognition by innate immune cells, antigen generation and presentation to lymphocytes, effector mechanisms of T cells and therapeutic modulation of the immune responses to control inflammation or promote anti-tumor immunity.
Instructor: Thomas Sundberg, PhD, Senior Research Scientist I, Center for Development of Therapeutics, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

SC2: Targeting of Ion Channels with Monoclonal Antibodies - Detailed Agenda

Essex Center
Ion channels are important therapeutic targets and currently represent the second largest target class addressed by therapeutic drugs. Significant opportunities exist for targeting ion channels with antibodies, but to date it has been challenging to discover therapeutic antibodies against them. This course will examine emerging technologies and strategies for enabling the isolation of functional anti-ion channel antibodies and highlight progress via case studies.
Instructor: Trevor Wilkinson, PhD, Associate Director, Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering, AstraZeneca BioPharmaceuticals Unit, United Kingdom

SC3: Selection, Screening and Engineering for Affinity Reagents - Detailed Agenda

St. George AB
A comprehensive overview of different display technologies as well as screening approaches for the selection of specific binders. In addition, it will discuss engineering strategies including affinity maturation and how to implement these strategies. Classical antibodies and antibody fragments as well as alternative binding scaffolds will also be covered.
Instructors: Jonas V. Schaefer, PhD, Laboratory Head, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), Switzerland
Christian Kunz, PhD, Director, Discovery Alliances & Technologies, MorphoSys AG, Germany


SC4: How to Best Utilize 3D Cells, Spheroids and PDX Models in Oncology - Detailed Agenda

St. George CD
The course will provide an overview of 3D cell culture and spheroid models currently available and where and how these models are being used, specifically for oncology research. The instructors will share their experiences on how they tested and evaluated various cell culture reagents and growth matrices, what worked, what didn’t and what you need to consider when setting up low- and high-throughput screening experiments using 3D cell cultures in your lab. The challenges working with 3D cell cultures, from experimental design to data analysis, will be discussed.
Instructors: Madhu Lal-Nag, PhD, Program Lead, Research Governance Council, Office of Translational Sciences, Center for Drug Evaluation & Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Geoffrey Bartholomeusz, PhD, Associate Professor and Director, Target Identification and Validation Program, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

SC5: Applications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Drug Discovery and Development - Detailed Agenda

Essex North
This course aims to educate a diverse group of scientists-chemists, biologists, toxicologists, and those involved in translational and clinical research, about the growing use and applications of AI & ML. Talks start with explaining the basic terminology used and what it means, followed by discussions separating the hope from the hype. It goes into the caveats and limitations in AI and ML, while exploring ways in which it can be successfully applied in the drug discovery and development pipeline. There will be experts from various areas presenting case studies on how they have used AI/ML tools for lead optimization, target discovery, visualizing and classifying large datasets, patient stratification and more.
Instructors: Arvind Rao, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan
Dan Anderson, PhD, Vice President, Biology, Recursion Pharma
Paul Rohricht MS MBA, Chief Business Officer – Pharma, Nuritas Corporation
Kuan-Fu Ding, MSc, PhD, Chief Science Officer and Chief Technology Officer, Cubismi Inc.


SC6: Biochemistry and Pharmacology of the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System - Detailed Agenda

Essex South
This course is intended for the audience interested in drug discovery programs aimed to develop proteolysis-targeting chimeric molecules (PROTACs) or molecular degraders, and/or small molecule inhibitors targeting components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). The first part of the course will cover basic mechanistic biochemistry/cell biology of the ubiquitin-proteasome system, which includes E1, E2, E3, and deubiquitinating enzymes, and their macromolecular architecture. Subsequently, we will discuss assays and technologies currently available for the UPS system and known enzyme inhibitors. The second part of the course will cover PROTACs and molecular glue molecules, compounds that induce proteasomal degradation of their drug targets.
Instructor: Alexander Statsyuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 | 7:00 - 9:30 PM

SC8: GPCR Structure-Based Drug Discovery - Detailed Agenda

St. George CD
The high-resolution structures of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) determined by X-ray crystallography and recently by cryo-EM are rapidly impacting the pharmaceutical industry. This course will review the structural biology concepts and tools developed to date that enabled successful GPCR structural determination. We will also examine how the elucidated structures have informed our current understanding of GPCR function. Examples will be provided of how GPCR structural information is guiding rational design of subtype selectivity and functional selectivity for small molecules. Perspectives on current gaps in GPCR structure-based drug design will be provided at the end to stimulate deep thinking and discussion on how to overcome these hurdles.
Instructor: Huixian Wu, PhD, Principal Scientist, Structural and Molecular Sciences, Discovery Sciences, Pfizer, Inc.

SC9: Targeted Protein Degradation Using PROTACs, Molecular Glues and More - Detailed Agenda

Essex North
Targeted protein degradation using molecular glues and bifunctional small molecules known as proteolysis-targeting chimeric molecules (PROTACs) are emerging as a useful tool for drug discovery, and as a new therapeutic modality for chasing previously “undruggable” targets. This course will cover the basic understanding of what these entities are, how they work and how they can be applied to target and degrade specific proteins of interest. Case studies drawn from the work that the instructors have done in their labs will also be presented.
Instructors: Alexander Statsyuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston
James Robinson, PhD, Team Leader, Discovery Sciences, AstraZeneca
Stewart Fisher, PhD, CSO, C4 Therapeutics

*Separate registration required